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Everything posted by jkarpf

  1. Hi from the LBI, where this New Yorker is surrounded by Philadelphians. Ship Bottom's Zen is at least recently terrible for noodles, maybe thanks to the global apocalypse. Good cold soba when we dined in two years ago, but their takeout "soba" last month may as well have been spaghetti. But there's good news in Tom's River from 4.3: The Point: Toms River, NJ Rejoices with News of a Unique Ramen Restaurant Opening Soon “Ramen, when done right, can be a delicacy. Ramen has roots. . . . According to a profile from APP.com, Wayne’s love of Ramen came from watching the Brittany Murphy movie ‘The Ramen Girl.’ . . . Wayne wanted to create a sit-down ramen restaurant, and he did. Roc N Ramen is now operating in New Rochelle, New York, the Bronx, and Dubai. . . . His next venture is a brand new chain of ramen restaurants called Vibe N Slurp. Ha! . . . Lucky for us, one of the ten nationwide locations set to open will be in Toms River. Look for Vibe N Slurp at 1776 Hooper Avenue taking the place of Bamboo Panda. . . . [There will be] infused ramen such as shrimp scampi. . . "
  2. As awful as the pandemic has been, I've enjoyed the wider and deeper access to such deliciousness via deliveries, since we've been sheltering very strictly. All durian is shipped to the US East Coast frozen, so far as I know, so if it's "fresh" I'm sure it's been thawed. (My coop board's not gonna see this, right?)
  3. Not broken at all. My best guess is that it's a dishware manufacturer's sample. The owner of the restaurant (Jiangnan-style food with lots of patrons from a China Institute center nearby) declined to sell. I'd hoped to make it a gag gift for a friend who collected only eighteenth-century Worcester and Meissen porcelain.
  4. I found this decoration in a Chinese restaurant a few years ago.
  5. From a 1962 Green Giant ad in the New Yorker. A James Beard recipe can be trusted, right? . . .
  6. I owe Spam an apology. Our first dinner in Rome, at a restaurant that turned out to be not only bad but infamously bad (now "10,207 of 10,235 Restaurants in Rome" per TripAdvisor), featured what I remembered as Spam pizza. It was terrible, but now I'm reminded that it wasn't Spam. Not my photo -- we went in 2011, someone else took this in 2015, and they're still serving it.
  7. As an upcoming birthday present, I'll be given the smoker of my choice to go alongside a natural-gas, high-heat grill at a summer house. I'll be the only one using the smoker. In the past I improvised with the grill, struggling for low temperature, but got more bad results than good. One whole brisket was spectacularly tender and flavorful. Another became a brick. Despite the grief described in the topic "Assembling a Propane Smoker" at I've got to go with propane too. Household natural gas just isn't available for dedicated smokers, I don't want electric, and my limited time at this house won't make wood or charcoal fuel practical. So I'd welcome any new propane-smoker tips. eGullet was where I first learned about the Big Apple Barbecue here in NYC, after all. I've found comprehensive reviews at two BBQ-specific forums but I'm not up to that level of obsessive detail, not yet. A minimum feature I'd like to have is a separate door for replacing the wood chips. Many box models have a single door, which wastes the smoke and heat when changing the chips. Also, the smaller the better, I think; I won't be doing anything bigger than whole shoulders or briskets or chickens. I might like to drill a hole to install an accurate digital-thermometer lead. Here's what I've found so far: Lowe's sells a Master Forge Double Door smoker for $179 ( http://www.lowes.com/pd_411913-95393-MFX784BDP_0__?productId=4459479&N ) that the members of one BBQ forum rave about (http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/products/master-forge-double-door-smoker ). Amazon offers, with Prime shipping, a $140 Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker that another such forum likes a lot (http://amazingribs.com/bbq_equipment_reviews_ratings/smoker/char-broil-vertical-gas-smoker ) though the Amazon customer reviewers are less enthusiastic (http://www.amazon.com/Char-Broil-11701705-Vertical-Gas-Smoker/dp/B004J66WWG ), Conversely, Amazon customer reviewers loved the $167 Prime-shipping Masterbuilt Propane Smoker (http://www.amazon.com/Masterbuilt-20051311-2-Door-Propane-Smoker/dp/B004W4NDPY ) though the first other forum's commenters say it needs extra care and even improvisation during assembly and use (http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/products/masterbuilt-two-door-propane-smoker ).
  8. Still hunting for that perfect Barcelona cooking class. As an alternative to the meh-looking top-rated TripAdvisor course at http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187497-d611509-Reviews-Cook_and_Taste-Barcelona_Catalonia.html , I've found: http://www.golearnto.com/course/itinerary/858/spanish+cooking+course+%2b+boqueria+market+ http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187497-d2254518-Reviews-Espai_Boisa_Barcelona_Cooking_School-Barcelona_Catalonia.html http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187497-d2178269-Reviews-A_Taste_of_Spain_Culinary_Day_Tours_Catalonia-Barcelona_Catalonia.html http://www.catacurian.com/1_day_barcelona_cooking_class.html (or day trip at http://www.catacurian.com/2005_programs.html http://www.foodietours.com/One-day-cooking-class-in-Barcelona.html http://www.cellartours.com/spain/culinary-tours/barcelona-cooking.html http://www.travelbar.com/spanish_cooking.htm http://www.euroadventures.net/ViewProduct.asp?ProductID=1051&AF=52 http://www.oh-barcelona.com/en/blog/2011/things-to-do/entertainment/spanish-cooking-classes-1187 It makes me want to settle for room service. For instance, one of the five reviews of http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187497-d2178269-Reviews-A_Taste_of_Spain_Culinary_Day_Tours_Catalonia-Barcelona_Catalonia.html , begins "As the owners of a small, family-operated bakery/restaurant," which reminds me of the planted reviews as documented in the article http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/technology/finding-fake-reviews-online.html
  9. The gf (now fiancée) and I are going to Barcelona and Madrid for our vacation (now honeymoon). Unfortunately our hotel always has to be central, and walkable to sights. For Barcelona, we'll be looking at the central old city (Barri Gòtic, El Born-La Ribera) neighborhoods; and for Madrid, maybe Los Austrias/Sol. This means we'll be surrounded by overpriced, crappy tourist restaurants, but we ate well in Rome and Istanbul thanks to careful research, so I'm optimistic about Spain. We may stick to Eastern time so we can dine out as late as Madrileños, but then we'd have less daytime for sights, so maybe we'll end up living on tapas. What puzzles me the most now is which cooking class to pick in Barcelona. We loved those in other travels. Tripadvisor favors one (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187497-d611509-Reviews-Cook_and_Taste-Barcelona_Catalonia.html ), but its lowest-star feedback complains that there's not much hand-on cooking and the recipes aren't great. I'm trusting Tripadvisor less over the years. When overwhelmingly uninformed people pick the best-rated venues, they tend to rate them well no matter what, and I see self-reinforcing feedback of less objective praise. So I'm googling for other Barcelona cooking classes. http://www.catacurian.com/2005_programs.html , despite its link, is current and looks like it has a variety of good choices. Of course, Google search results are victim to that self-reinforcing feedback too.
  10. Since grapefruit doesn't go well with my Lipitor, when I order brunch with my partner, I encourage her to order a glassful of the juice so I can smell it. But usually she orders orange juice so we can share it. Yet what I really want is to smell her grapefruit juice.
  11. jkarpf

    Short Ribs

    Braising's my favorite technique for short ribs. I'm skeptical about slow roasting, as described above, rendering out the fat, or making it easy to whittle out the gristle, since I once spent a whole day smoking cross-cut short ribs ("before" photo below) and dealt with lots of fat and gristle. Maybe I needed ribs cut lengthwise, instead of crosswise?
  12. I did the top-Google-result recipe "Braised Goat Shoulder Rubbed With Spanish Spices," http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/15/dining/151grex.html , which was fantastic. But my shoulder, which had been sold to me at the NYC Union Square farmer's market as "rib" meat -- which I'd initially hoped simply to roast! -- needed around twice as much braising time as given. So whatever recipe you use, check it for doneness as you go along.
  13. jkarpf

    Buying a half cow

    Yeah, don't grind those up. And enjoy those need-special-cooking but more flavorful cuts -- braising will be fine for many of them; no need for sous-vide. Don't worry about ground beef since you'll get more than you want anyway. Decide whether you want a whole, long tenderloin (which would include the filet mignon), which would be whittled out from front to back and then with the neighboring meat ground up; or whether you want more steaks, which would keep the tenderloin as part of many of those steaks. Do you get a choice of how the animal was raised/fed? My informal cow-buying group (more on that in a second) started with grass-fed and grass-finished, but even those steaks could be tough. So we switched to grass-fed, grain-finished, which has been amazingly tender. Such fattier steers dress down to less usable meat, so they're relatively expensive compared to the former, leaner kind, but we've all preferred the latter. (I don't know much about aging, but though that dessication increases the deliciousness, that too reduces yield and therefore increases the cost.) Finally, if you buy certified-organic rather than close-to-but-not-certified-organic, you may end up with 100 percent grain-fed since with certification, it's hard to prove that the fields that the steers graze on don't have pesticides or pollutants even just drifting over from neighboring farms or roads. My friends and I have, for the last seven years, been buying whole sides of beef from New Paltz, NY. Our organizer has it butchered and flash-frozen near there, and then he drives it down to NYC where we divide it up, having PayPalled him for for our shares, which are eighths of a side (each being 1/16 of a whole steer). Each share is around 30 lbs of meat. It has cost us around $130/share, or around $4.30/lb for each share's assortment of cuts. It is delicious. It's not the easiest way to buy beef. We meet at a mutually inconvenient home in Brooklyn, though once or twice we used a low-traffic sidewalk. Dividing common cuts like burger and most steaks is easy, but larger or more unique cuts like roasts, short ribs, skirt steak, and hanger steak then require some friendly round-robin picking, and then maybe trading if some people prefer some cuts over others. (For instance, some like the convenience/smaller size of the ground beef, while others like the challenge of the brisket). These cuts are wrapped in butcher paper and stamped with the name of the cut, so you can't examine it in advance. But this is head and shoulders above supermarket meat. I don't know when we'll be doing it next, but you can see photos over the years of us dividing it up at at http://foody.org/meating.html . Or hear me talking about it on KCRW-FM's "Good Food" at http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/gf/gf040424noodles_your_own_cow . Or read one member's blog post about it at http://familyoffood.blogspot.com/2009/01/beefening.html . Finally, if any other eGullet members want to take part in the future, we've created a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=307598391990 . I'm hoping the next share will be for pig, which has also worked well a couple of times.
  14. Recently someone from New London told me that she'd discovered a sort of regional, invitation-only event for ice cream. Lots of cream is trucked in and attendees bring ingredients for making dozens of unusual flavors. Plus there's activities like contra dancing. She's a family friend I see annually; I'm sure she wasn't pulling my leg. But I don't have her contact info, so I'm hoping the fellow food nuts here will know about this. No, I'm not angling for an invite. My gf lets me get away with the occasional midnight steak or raw milk, but not a day (or more) of ice cream. She might've said it was called Bait, or something sounding similar to that. A couple of hours of googling have been fruitless.
  15. I'm glad Martin's served better portions overall. This year, I was again underwhelmed by Ed Mitchell's whole hog, which so vinegared and so finely minced that it was, again, almost like tuna salad (cracklings weren't available when I asked). I would've enjoyed Martin's whole hog more had there been more. Portions can be such a crap shoot. My group ended up getting five orders of 17th Street ribs thanks to their highly smoked deliciousness, and the largest serving must've been three times the size of the smallest. Another reason to go w/ friends and share. Moonlite's mutton took the place of the weird-food niche occupied last year by Smoki O, which had served delicious but off-puttingly-named snoot sandwiches. Most of my group loved the mutton, though two of us felt it didn't taste much LIKE mutton, more like beef. I too was impressed by the trafficking, except for my last attempt for a meal, at Jim 'N' Nicks, where many sausages had been plated w/ their sides but the lines to buy were needlessly long. Cruising the booths shortly before noon meant instant service. I'll be going again in 2011. The whole fair has inspired me to try my own smoking in a couple of weekend when I visit my gf's family, which uses their grill only for grilling, not smoking. I'll make a big mess, of course, but that's one of the benefits of being just a weekend guest: the privilege of not having to clean up entirely after yourself. I have some frozen heirloom-breed short ribs I'd like to experiment with. Steve, great meeting you, but if I can wear a bacon shirt to a 'cue fest, you can wear bacon pants instead of fish pants.
  16. And here's Martin's meat-skimpy whole-hog sandwich:
  17. Blue Smoke: Salt-and-pepper beef ribs, the best Blue Smoke offering in or out of the restaurant, though I've been spoiled by RUB's and Hill Country's much pricier but much meatier prime-rib beef ribs: Checkered Pig: Three St. Louis style spareribs, in tomatoey sauce, were meaty but not very smoky. If there was a side, I didn’t write it down. Jim 'N' Nicks: A big sausage smoked open over hickory, somewhat spicy, made up for its weird accompaniment, the southern “pimento cheese” spread, here rendered as shredded American cheese w/ mayo topped by sliced fresh jalapeno, with Saltines on the side. Moonlite: Mutton. Shortest lines, like least year's pig-snoot booth, but said to be very good: Rack and Soul: Three moist, meaty, and moderately smoky baby-back ribs, showing some pink at the edge and dressed w/ a very peachy, sweet glaze. The baked beans’s base sauce was generic but it was well spiked with spicy, chopped, well-cooked jalapeno, and there was a delicious cubic inch of impossibly tender pork shoulder with the beans, too. Wildwood: Pork "steak" sandwich, possibly shoulder cut, the most meat of any of the entrees: I would've taken a photo of 17th Street's ribs, but they were so transcendent, stopping time, that I didn't bother.
  18. And Ed Mitchell and Hill Country already sold out half an hour ago. They're smoking more. If it rains tomorrow, they'll have too much. Below, whole hog from Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint. It's served disappointingly, though -- unlike Mitchell's finely minced whole hog, this is served in chunks, with my random sample being neither tender nor flavorful nor large, and pretty much buried under slaw in a burger bun. Conserving their pig resources, they won't run out, I'm sure.
  19. Ed Mitchell's seven smokers working hard: Pit workers and their families and/or girlfriends partying at Ubon's:
  20. It turns out I've been cooking and eating my marrow the wrong way for years. I'd been roasting it for the 45 minutes that's best for browning the bones for stock. After all, I first learned about marrow when my best friend phoned me as I doing just that, and she asked me what I was doing at the moment. She HUNG UP on me, rushed over with a loaf of fresh bread, and showed me how to scoop out the marrow and eat it. Though plain. It'd been good but greasy. Only this past weekend, when I had a unexpected surplus of thawed bones after a canceled party, did I look at marrow recipes and learn I should roast it for much less time, and that there was a rationale for the garnish served with marrow in restaurants -- that it wasn't useless like the cocktail sauce or mignonette served with oysters that are best eaten plain, if they're good oysters. So: Only 15-20 minutes of roasting left my marrow with a perfect custardy texture. And the easily made parsley-salad garnish with capers, shallots, lemon did indeed give, as another Web site had promised, "the nice deep flavor of the marrow, the bite and slight salty burst of the sea salt, and the tart and flavorful balancing effect of the salad."
  21. I'm buying my fast pass now, grumpily -- but only because yesterday a friend gave me gift cards to RUB, Hill Country, and Wildwood, so I still feel I'm coming out ahead.
  22. Any interest in salt-baking as an accessible, less risky alternative? I just showed my sculptor gf this thread and she said that potters' clay isn't even safe enough to breathe, never mind eat.
  23. The more I read eGullet's BABBP thread each year -- which is how I discovered both eGullet and the guerrilla-warfare tricks for working the fair's booths -- the more I'm struck by the range of quality that each booth can offer. Sausage can be dry or juicy, pulled pork mushy/bland or stringy/savory, ribs tender or tough depending on the random time of day. I learn so much about which vendors to try and which ones to avoid, and the differences between objective and subjective BBQ appreciation. Who works AT the booths besides the cooks, by the way? Are they local volunteers or employees, maybe with the Madison Square Park Conservancy? Or do they come in with the pitmasters' crews? Could it be worth becoming a carnie at this carnivorous fair? In 2004, there was a bit of speculation about the servers: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=66105&st=120 Bux: "I wonder where all those pit workers came from. It doesn't seem likely that most of the servers were brought up and housed overnight. Pit crews and family were obviously imported. Some of the service seemed assembly line disinterested. At some tents however, it was particularly friendly down home service. . . . I wonder about the economics of participation in such an event and compensation to the participants. I look at the long line at Ed Mitchell's and then I look at the pits he brought up and the spectacular gigantic rig parked on East 25th or 26th Street and have to wonder if he could recoup the cost at $7 a head. In addition to the free 'cue to pass holders on Saturday and the feeding of security personnel, I noticed worker's accepting credits from other tents, especially late on Sunday when some pits were sold out. It just doesn't seem as if profit was a major motive. I figure they all came up for some good old NYC hospitality more than anything else." Juuceman: "The non-Southern staff was provided by some event staffing company.. i thought most of them were pretty ineffective, poorly trained, and generally mechanical. . . ."
  24. On drizzly midday Saturday, which helped cut some lines, I too liked Patrick Martin's whole-hog sandwiches. My group of six started there since Ed Mitchell had disappointed us last year when we got three plates from his booth, which had minced the meat so finely it had become as bland as canned tuna. But Martin's pork turned out to be dark, rich in smoke, and pulled into long strands. A fine start. Then my friends and I took shifts with my express card, bringing back more 'cue. Hill Country was shockingly skimpy, giving us only three thin strips of brisket. No wonder its line was the shortest at that time/day. Mike Mills'/ 17th Street's ribs wowed us all: tender meat, gentle but adequate smoke, and the perfect minimum of glaze. Those were my gf's first smoked ribs, too -- a great personal start for her. Drew Robinson's/Jim 'N Nick's spicy sausage, cut obscenely long, was our day's winner, though the pimento cheese and saltines were a weird wash. Michael Rodriguez's/Salt Lick's sausage, savory much less spicy and a bit shorter, impressed almost as much. On Sunday, two of us went back to use up my card, got two plates from Ed Mitchell, and it was very good this time, chopped instead of minced. His slicers were giving away lots of skin -- smoked a second time after removal from the meat -- to the streetside traffic, a big crowd-pleaser. slkinsey, thanks for the stats. The other non-Ch food board I'm on doesn't seem to have an active item for this at all. I hope interest continues to wane, shortening the lines. I stole from one of the booths in a fit of pique that the barbecue community didn't deserve. The booth's express side turned out to have one short line for paying and a second line for pickup. The second line was very slow, thanks to a plodding slicer and the servers sending many more plates to the regular line. Meanwhile, I couldn't unpunch my card, some rain was starting, and I was still annoyed by Hill Country's cheap serving. So on this later booth's second line I said I'd ordered two plates, not one, which was unethical. I don't expect it to restore any cosmic balance, but later on I passed around my Lipitor in case the people around me wanted a free hit. Since sharing the card worked even better than it had for me last year, next year I plan to take more people earlier and encourage them to wander looking at the different smokers and prep tables, instead of expecting them to rush back to feed the group.
  25. Great photos and commentary, but docsconz's second snapshot of Mr. Cecil pitmaster Jonathan Burrows does not make me smile. His booth's express line barely moved when I was on it, since only he was slicing the beef ribs and sausage. When one of my friends was ready to buy on Ed Mitchell's line, which was twice as long as but moved three times as quickly, I had to abandon Mr. Cecil and run my FastPass to Mitchell's line. Hill Country's beef ribs were great later, though, and served with an unadvertised bonus of great spicy sausage.
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